It’s not surprisingly that as homebirth edges into the mainstream, we are seeing an increasing number of homebirth deaths, almost all of which are preventable. But even I am shocked at finding 6 homebirth loss mothers in one place. Their stories are a cautionary tale for anyone who likes to pretend that homebirth is safe or that homebirth midwives are remotely qualified.
… The decision to have a homebirth is not one I made lightly.
A part of me wants to focus on the politics of homebirth, to whip out a bullet list of why I chose homebirth for my second pregnancy. Why it was the safest choice for me, and why my care was better than anything I could have received in an OB’s office.
And another part of me wants to describe what I felt during the car ride to the hospital – the 10 minutes-away-We’ll-get-there-in-plenty-of-time-if-any-issues-arise hospital – after my baby’s heartrate dropped suddenly during labor…
And I want to describe what it like upon returning home from the hospital after my daughter, Sunrise, was stillborn, to the place where everything had been set up for her arrival. It felt like a tomb…
But most of all, I want to describe the look that I noticed when people learned my daughter was stillborn. It was a look that said, “Of course your child died. You planned a homebirth.”
I can identify with what you are going through. We chose a birthing center with midwife care for the birth of our first child. I have a million reasons why I made that decision, but now they seem less important than they once did. We were transferre to the hospital, and at this point we still thought everything would be okay. It wasn’t. I will always wonder if we’d been in the hospital the whole time if they would have noticed her drop in heartrate faster, and gotten her out faster, and if she’d be okay. I feel like everyone is judging me and my decision, as though I wouldn’t have made the best possible choices for my child. But this birthing center and midwife had never lost a baby before my daughter.
I chose a vba3c for Freddie. I knew the risks and I knew they were slight. I didn’t rupture, I was monitored, he seemed fine, there was no meconium, no heartbeat drop, no signs of distress. No obvious cord trauma even. But he was critically low on oxygen when he was born and didn’t breathe…
… [M]y daughter was born at home, [but] the complications that arose following her birth were devastating and I came home without my daughter too, to the room that she was born in, with everything there… but her. I have also seen the ugly face of homebirth advocacy that wants to make us the exception, and an excusable exception…
Today last year my son Titus died in the last minutes of childbirth at home due to a severe shoulder dystocia. He was stuck very bad and his chord was being pinched. The midwife could not get him out in time. The ambulance and emt’s were there in minutes but he could not be resesitated. I rarely tell people we had a home birth because in their minds it is my fault. After we lost our son, my own father called and used the words, “I tried to warn you.” I even got a nasty letter from my grandma. People have no idea how this adds to our grief. I blame myself every minute of everyday and I do not need people to add to that burden. I woke up this morning on his first birthday in the bed I labored and gave birth to him in, but never nursed him or held him alive…
My youngest daughter was born at home after a perfectly normal, robustly healthy pregnancy, and a pretty darn fab labour and delivery, but she collapsed shortly after birth and died in the hospital six hours after she was born. Everyone involved agreed that she would have died no matter where or how she was born, (and we had an official investigation including detectives and the coroners office.)
Still, though, despite that, there are those that have said that they would never consider a home birth because of what happened to Florence, there are even family members who have mentioned to us how unsafe they thought home birth was. People still think we messed up…I don’t know how to correct them, and I’m hurt and insulted by them.
Florence’s birth was perfect, and it gives me peace to know she was born at home, caught by her Daddy and loved. I just wish it could’ve been for a longer life time.
… While homebirth was not an option for me (it is illegal for midwives to attend homebirths in my state), I very much desired a natural birth with my first child, a son, Everett. I read and researched, and decided that avoiding induction was my best choice for avoiding an induction [sic], and to that end, was 40 weeks 5 days when I learned my sweet boy had died inside of me. I felt (and still feel sometimes) so foolish and stupid for letting my pregnancy go so long. I had been so confident in my body’s ability to birth my child; I felt humiliated and like a failure when he died. If I had just induced at 39.5 weeks like so many others do, my boy would probably be here today …
In each case, “trusting birth” led to a dead baby. For women contemplating homebirth, ask yourself:
Is my birth “experience” worth the life time of this kind of searing pain, heartache and endless regrets?
Six ordinary women accepted the mistruths, half truths and outright lies that characterize homebirth advocacy and paid for their gullibility with their babies lives. A seventh believed that it was more important to avoid a C-section than to have an induction and her baby died, too.
Choose homebirth, and that could be you.
Correction: I received an email that Merry’s son Freddie was born in a hospital. I was able to find her blog and read the birth story. As far as I can determine, she chose a provider and hospital willing to support her decision for a vaginal birth:
This is the story of Freddie’s birth, one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It is also, sadly, the story of the first of his 11 days of life. His birth was, I believe, a successful VBA3C. You have to decide for yourself whether successful is the right word…
What I will never know, what is really cruel, is I don’t know whether he would be alive if I’d had my ‘easy option’ elective section a week earlier. That is very hard. I’ve been told that had that been my first labour, there would have been no question of anything but a natural delivery – but he wasn’t my first and I had a choice. And maybe, I don’t know, maybe I made the wrong choice. I just don’t know. I don’t think so but I can’t ever know.